There is so much to be learned from doing live performances, and also so much that can be achieved in terms of making yourself a better player, and a more professional musician. I have found this over the years to be very true, as much of my learning really occurred to begin with in front of live audiences! There were countless times I had to be thrust onstage with many different acts, barely knowing the songs or anything, but being able to use my musical and performing instincts, able to quickly learn, process and perform with feeling, the given material! Of course, it helps to be a good improviser in the first place, but this really did help me become a better one, with a better ear too!
Live shows can be very trying to say the least, because so much more is involved than just the playing part. The booking, the travel and just basically all the logistics, right down to getting paid, can really sap the creative juices from you, and can keep your mind uneasy at a time when it needs to be free of worry. Lately, I’ve learned how to also use the safety of the stage to leave my worries and problems behind, and to simply “lose” myself in the music. This is a very important thing to be able to do, and it’s a skill that all of us unfortunately, will need at some point!
Truthfully, live performing has always been my most comfortable place of all, and it took a while to actually get more comfortable regarding that process, which of course, became its own unique learning experience. It’s so important to trust each other when performing with others, and not to get accusatory onstage if someone should perchance make a mistake. Just keep going on, and make sure it looks like nobody made a mistake, since most of the audience doesn’t even realize this anyway!
In my earlier days, I also felt that is was a cool thing to be aloof to the audience, and to just let the music speak for itself. Well, I decided that once I started really talking and communicating with them, it broke down all the doors, and in fact made them understand and pay closer attention to my music in the long run! So keep on keepin’ on in regards to your live shows, and I hope you really enjoy what I had to say. More on this subject in future posts.
Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.